Sunday, April 08, 2012

Life offers revised "Holy Lands: One Place, Three Faiths": spectacular illustrations, good discussions of paradoxes of faith

In supermarkets and various retail outlets, consumers will find a large paperback “Life” book, updated, “Holy Lands: One Place, Three Faiths”, written by Hildegard, Lauren Nathan, Michelle Du Pre. This 2012 update (112 pages) contains a new chapter on the Arab Spring.

Much of the focus on the book is on “who is” each of the major characters. That is, Abraham for all faiths; Moses and David for Judaism; Jesus for Christianity, Muhammad for Islam.

The chapter on Jesus does stress a certain paradox in Christian ethics, which would somewhat be followed in Islam, when properly understood.  That is to say that while the family and tribe or locality may be the most important source of social capital, it is important to reach out to everyone that is accessible to one, in other families and groups and cultures.   This outreach is necessary to grow as an individual.  On p. 38 especially, the writers indicate that “notions of pacifism and charity were alien. The idea of giving one’s cloak to a needy stranger – a brother, Jesus suggested—did not have much currency in Palestine before he existed.”   Jesus and Muhammad lived very different lives.  Muhammad had been married and was older, about 40, before he started his ministry.  Later, the book notes that Islam regards the Christian notion of Trinity as polytheistic.

The book has wonderful photographs, an inexpensive substitute for an in-person trip which is very difficult.

The book  traces the history of the area of Palestine since around 1900, and traces the history of the controversy over Israel and its reasons for occupation of the West Bank and other areas. The book has a picture of an Israeli soldier inspecting a Palestinian home and says that all young Palestinian males have to be questioned.

Don Sunukjian from Biola University discusses “turn the other cheek” from the Sermon on the Mount on YouTube (2011):

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